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BEING LETTERS TO
THOMAS THORNHILL, Esq.,
OF RIDDLESWORTH, IN THE COUNTY OF NORFOLK ;
HIS PRISONER IN THE FLEET.
WITH OCCASIONAL COMMUNICATIONS FROM FRIENDS.
"The Allar, the Throne, and the Cottage."+" Property has its duties, as well as its rights."
The Husbandman that laboureth, must be first partaker of the fruits."
in pieces the Oppressor."
Being Letters to
Of Riddlesworth, in the County of Norfolk;
His Prisoner in the Fleel.
WITH OCCASIONAL COMMUNICATIONS FROM FRIENDS.
“The Altar, the Throne, and the Cottage."- Property has its duties, as well as its rights."
The Husbandman that laboureth, must be first partaker of the fruits." " He shall judge the poor of the people, He shall save the children of the needy, and shall break
in pieces the oppressor."
LONDON, SATURDAY, JANUARY 1, 1842.
THOMAS THORNHILL, Esq.
The Fleet Prison. SIR,—This is New Year's Day. Good morning to you. A happy new year to you and the Fixby heiress ! May she be safe preserved from any harm this year, as last! and, at a distant period, when you shall “ gather up your feet" (remember "all flesh is grass "), may she inherit, despite of every other claimant, the lordly acres of her sires !
I am no prophet, nor yet the son of one, but, judging from “ the signs of the times,” if I mistake not, this year will be one of unrivalled importance. Truthi and Falschood must now meet together, no longer to make mock-peace under the kiss of expediency—but in antagonistic strife !
Christianity and Infidelity-Romanism and Protestantism-Liberty and Liberalism-Order and Anarchy, now, all assert their claims; their separate hosts are preparing for the grand encounter-they have all drawn their swords, and thrown away their scabbards the sound of battle is heard in all their borders they will meet no more to parley, but in active strife. I have taken my
amongst the combatants. In many conflicts, I have tried the metal of my weapons, and of my foes. My heart quakes not to meet them once again ; my arm is nerved, unflinching, for the battle. This year, I will strive, once more, to do my duty. Fearless of all consequences, I will meet my country's foes; and, in the conflict, may “ the Lord do that which seemeth Him good.”
“ Allor none !" resounds from the encampments of the enemy in Derby, Leeds, and Manchester. “ Free Trade and No Surrender !” is now trumpeted from their Marshall's hosts. To the conflict, then, in right good earnest. I echo back their war-cry,—“ All or none.” Be that, henceforth, my watchword. Of expediency, and half measures, I have long been weary. “ Protection to our native industry,” is my response to their challenge of “ Free Trade.”
“ No sura render,” shall be my motto as well as theirs. “We are thankful that we are no longer in office, we can afford to be honest, now," * proclaim their trumpeters.
, The best reason which can be given, wly “ ofice" should no more be yours, is my reply
But where, Sir, was their “honesty” in 1834? There was then distress enough to melt hearts of stone! But instead of sympathizing with the famished poor, these
* See Mr. Plint's Speech at the Leeds Anti-Corn Law Meeting, Dec. 13, 1811.
Leaguers were, at that time, aiding the Whig ministers to “force the working people of Eagland to live upon a coarser sort of food !” Then, they were contriving the means of still further reducing wages, by importing agricultural labourers into their mills! Then, they were boasting of “prosperity," deceiving you, and making you question my knowledge or veracity, when I told you of the extreme distress amongst the operatives and tenants on your estates. I did not deceive you, then, though you believed their tales about "prosperity.” Where, again I ask, was their “ honesty," when, being out of office, they deceived Sir Robert Peel anıl his late Majesty, who were made to boast, even in a speech from the throne, “ that the manufacturing districts were in a state of prosperity,” when the Leaguers knew, that one half their people were reduced to a state bordering upon starration ? Where, let me once more ask, was then their "honesty ?" At that time, I was examined before a committee of the House of Commons; I thought it was my duty to remove from the minds of the honourable members the delusion under which they laboured : I then resolved thus to tell them what I knew:
“ The very day when I read the speech of the King to this House, in which he said, the manufacturing districts were in a state of prosperity;' on that very day, I met with several hand-loom weavers, who were manufacturing' operatives, I questioned them very closely, and I found that on that day, when they were said to be in such a state of prosperity,' those men, and women, 100, were carrying burdens (warp and weft] eight or nine miles, to fetch their work, they had to carry them back again [in pieces), and they were making from 4s. 6d. to 5s. 2d. a-week, clear wages. "Those persons work from 12 10 14 hours a-day. But I am speaking of weavers in constant work. I very often find them going home without work at all. (Yes, there were thousands unemployed in those days, as well as now.) I met a lot of them, the week before last (there were eight of them), and there were only three in the lot who had work."+ " There are scores and hundreds of families in the district that I am now alluding 10, to whom a piece of Hesh meat is a luxury [this was as true then, as it is now), it does not form a regular article in their daily consumption ; they live generally upon porridge and potatoes, and they do not know what it is, many of them, very many of them, to laste flesh meat from year's end to year's end, excepting somebody gives tliem
Their children will sometimes run to Huddersfield, beg, and bring a piece in; it is quite a luxury when a piece [of flesh meat) is brought into their houses. But, as to their clothing, they are clothed in rags; and their furniture is such, as I am sure I cannot deseribe, but suclu as a convict ought not to have.'I I sometimes ask them, when I am walking with them, 'Ifibey go to church or chapel ?' and I generally get this answer, “We have nought to go in.' I often ask them, 'Do you know whether you live in a Christian country or not?' and a great many do nos know what I mean by the question; sometimes, they say, 'Yes, we do live in a Christian country; they tell us so.
.'" "I have had that answer given to me by scores of them; it is a question which, of late, I almost invariably put; because I bare said, that we ought to send missionaries up there. In fact, I was called upon by a member of the Methodist persuasion, in Huddersfield, 10 subscribe for a mission in that district. He told me, that they did not know what Christianity was;' his name is Webb; he is a manufacturer."'S “ I have not the least doubt, that capital, as it is now applied to labour and to property, is acting as a lever, and will, if not restrained, destroy the whole constitution of England; I believe it is waging war, now, as much against the palace of the King, the palaces of the nobles, and the mansions of the manafacturers [if the Leaguers had believed me, and taken my advice, they would not now be complaining of ruin and bankruptcy], as it is against the cottages of the poor, and I believe that the public will not, because they cannot, bear it (the tyranny of the Capitalists] much longer; that is my decided opinion, from observations that I have made."'l]
* Hand-loom Weavers' Committee Report, p. 279, ordered to be printed by the House of Conmons, 4.h Aug. 1831. + Ibid, ibid.
# Ibid, ibid.
|| Ibid, 291.
Now, Sir, these words were not uttered in a corner, they were published in the national records, and in many newspapers—they were read in public meetings in the manufacturing districts—they attracted the notice of the merchants and manufacturers of my own neighbourhood—they gave rise to a public controversy - they were proved to be true; nay, votes of thanks were given to me, for having so faithfully communicated the truth to the legislature.
Do you ask me, why I re-publish these sayings of mine? I answer, it is useful, now, to remind you, as well as the Leaguers, that when misery thus abounded in our neighbourhood, because it had not reached their “order," they were not only silent, but, on the contrary, informed the Government (and thus deceived you, and made you think that I was mistaken),“ that the manufacturing districts were in a state of great prosperity.” The Leaguers now, forsooth, lay claim to humanity-where was their pity then? It was shown by friend Ashworth sending to Chadwick, for your “ surplus” population, to reduce still further the wages of these poor hand-loom weavers !* representing that the manufacturers were short of hands (whilst thousands were walking the streets and lanes, “ because no man had hired them”), and that the manufacturing districts were a modern Goshen! In consequence of those lies (they were nothing less), hundreds of the Queen's honest and industrious subjects have since been murdered ! Those murders were perpetrated by law, under the system of migration, which was suggested by those two eminent Leaguers, Ashworth and Greg.
There was the Corn Law then, as now-corn was not very high priced ; wheat was, I believe, 468. to 50s. per quarter-still, there was all that misery! But, when I published that true account of the destitute condition of the manufacturing operatives in my own neighbourhood, who were the parties that then found fault with me for publishing those facts ? Shame to tell it, but it is true —they were those very persons who now pretend to feel so keenly for the poor, and
, are raving mad about “distress”-the Anti-Corn Law Leaguers ! They were the men who blamed me! They yelled at me like mad men. No name was too bad for them to give me—and why? Because they then thought that they were making large profits by thut misery, and they wished to hush ils moan! They could not afford to be “ honest," then, though “out of office." When I told them, as I often did, “THAT THEIR TURN WOULD COME NEXT!" they gnashied their teeth at me, and “ wished a bullet through my heart!” Those were thcir
words.How many of them are now fallen from their high estate, and sunk into nothingness, having become the victims of their own pet system, Free Trade, whilst its jaws are wide open to receive the rest. I remember well, in 1834-5, when that most excellent man, John Fielden, Esq., M.P., himself a large millowner and a most extensive manufacturer, told the Parliament of the great distress amongst the manufacturing operatives, and proved “that thousands were living upon 2}d. per day!" Oh, yes, I cannot forget how these very Leaguers then abused and attempted to ridicule that good man, and how they set their press to insult
* Ashworth expressly informed Chadwick, that the reason why he wanted your “surplus” population was, to “equalise wages," these poor hand-loom weavers having just then, in his neigh. bourhood, as he asserted, oblained an advance of 10 per cent, on their miserable starvation wages ! !--R.O.